Scrivener’s Forge 4

This month’s challenge was a tough one for me. But before I get to that I want to thank Neil MacDonald  for hosting this monthly challenge. Want to develop some new writing skills or sharpen some old ones. Take a gander at Neil’s challenge. Here’s the LINK to this month’s exercise.

To quote Neil here is the challenge for April –

Character and Likeability

A main character doesn’t have to be likeable, but they do have to be interesting. Any believable hero or heroine must have flaws (just as every satisfying villain must have good qualities). They may even be overwhelmed by their flaws. Flawed heroines are given a much harder time by readers than flawed heroes.


Write a scene with an unlikeable main character that you think will engage the reader’s interest. You might want to try changing their gender and writing it again. If you do this, consider what you learned from the comparison.

Here is my scene, word count 509

The door closed behind Matt with a satisfying thud. Avoiding the pile of newspapers and mail scattered in the hallway, he made his way into the kitchen. Things had gotten a little out of control since Helen left. Good riddance, he thought, the bitch had been driving him crazy with her constant nagging. As if on cue the phone rang. He placed the McDonald’s bag on the counter, pushing aside dirty glasses and empty bottles, ignoring the ear-piercing ring. The number of empty bottles strewn across the counter surprised him. One by one he picked up the bottles, convinced one would not be empty. One by one he threw them against the wall.

The phone rang again defeating the joy he had felt at finding a bottle that was a quarter full. He knew who it was and knew she wouldn’t give up. Matt snatched up the phone. His ex-wife’s voice was like nails dragged across a blackboard.

“Where the hell were you?”

Matt seethed in silence.

“You know you missed his baseball game again. You know how much he wants you there.”

Thoughts of seven-year-old Steven sobered him for a moment. “Christ Helen, I never said I would go. You’re the one filling his stupid little head with ideas.”

“Matt. He’s your son. The least you could do is show some interest in him.”

“Screw him and while you’re at it screw you.” Matt slammed down the phone.

Grabbing the bottle and a glass he headed to the living room and settled into his recliner. Matt didn’t bother turning on the TV. He knew what today’s top story would be. House fire claims the life of four.  The smell of smoke still lingered on his skin. No matter how many showers he took, the scent of smoke followed him everywhere. Gulping back some whiskey, he had long ago given up of the niceties of ice, he braced himself. He knew the images would come, just as he knew the only way to stop them. It had been also most two years ago. Flames had roared through the house destroying everything in its path. The captain’s voice boomed through his mic. We’re missing one. A five-year-old. Matt crawled room to room, hands frantically searching. The thick smoke blinded him. His breath was a ragged roar echoing inside his mask. On and on he probed. His stomach had lurched when his hand had brushed the small leg. Clutching the little boy, he rushed down the smoke-filled hall almost tripping as he burst through the front door into welcoming daylight. The EMT’s snatched the child from his arms. Matt had watched them frantically working. His heart was torn in two when their frantic actions slowed, then stopped.

How could he explain to Helen that every time he hugged Steven, he felt the body of the dead boy he had so desperately wanted to save? How hearing his son’s laughter, he was reminded that he had failed that little boy. Every smile from his son was a reminder that he had let a little boy die.

Thanks for reading. Leave me a comment. Did I develop an engaging unlikable character?

Visit this LINK to read other submissions to the Scrivener’s Forge Exercise.



2 thoughts on “Scrivener’s Forge 4

  1. I liked this very much, Cindy. You gave us an unappealing drunk from central casting, and then you peeled back the skin and showed us the heroism that turned him into a drunk. The way you achieved that turnabout was surprising and satisfying. If you tried the same thing in a longer piece you could drip-feed the information so the reader doesn’t flip-flop from disgust to sympathy in a couple of lines but slowly finds themselves understanding him.


    1. Thanks Neil. I appreciate the opportunity to work on these exercises. I found writing an unlikable MC difficult. Glad it worked out.

      Liked by 1 person

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